Why You Shouldn't Lie on Your Resume
Have you ever lied on your resume?
Charles Purdy | Monster+Hot Jobs senior editor
Desperate times often call for desperate measures — and in a brutal employment market, some job seekers may be tempted to falsify their work or education history in order to make themselves more attractive to potential employers.
HireRight.com, a provider of on-demand employment background screening, recently found that 34 percent of job applicants lie on resumes. And when HotJobs recently asked people whether they’d ever lied in a job interview, 41 percent said yes.
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But job seekers who stretch the truth are playing an ever-riskier game, according to Dennis Nason, CEO of the recruiting firm Nason & Nason. “Background checks are much easier now,” he says. “It’s all pretty open on the Internet.” And many companies and recruiters now employ background-check providers who specialize in sniffing out untruths.
The Gray Area Between Fact and Fiction
Almost all career experts advise job seekers to customize their resumes to individual jobs they apply for. So where’s the line between self-promotion and falsehood? Some experts say it can be hard to define. Tim McIntyre, president and CEO of The Executive Search Group explains, “The dictionary says that ‘embellish’ means ‘to make beautiful,’ which is when a candidate is great at self-promotion. The difference between that and a damaging lie varies by industry and profession.”
For instance, financial executives are subject to more-intense scrutiny than many people going into entry-level positions that don’t involve money.
But at any point in your career, stretching the truth is risky — especially on official job applications. Brad Karsh, president and founder of JobBound, doesn’t see a gray area at all: “Any uncovered fib is liable to severely damage your reputation in the workplace.”
Just the Facts
According to Forbes.com, some of the most common resume lies are about education, employment dates, job titles and technical skills. And these are the same resume areas that, if you fudge them, can cause problems — the Internet has made it much easier to verify a person’s claims about education, for instance.
And Nason notes that firms like his are sleuthing far beyond a candidate’s given references to corroborate his claims — for instance, finding and contacting the candidate’s former colleagues via LinkedIn.
Career expert Liz Ryan says, “People think that they can make up and embellish details about companies that have been sold or gone out of business. But LinkedIn, Facebook, and our wide-ranging networks will put a quick stop to most efforts to change history in our favor.”